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Change Healthcare, UnitedHealth set Feb. 27 deadline for Justice Department to block deal

UnitedHealth Group plans to close its acquisition of Change Healthcare on Feb. 27, meaning the Justice Department now has less than one week to intervene to block the deal, according to a Feb. 17 Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The two companies had entered into a timing agreement with the Justice Department that prevented them from consummating the deal prior to Feb. 22. Under that agreement, the two parties said they would give the department 10 days' notice before closing the deal. 

"Effective February 17, 2022, UnitedHealth Group and the company provided such notice to the DOJ," Change wrote in the SEC filing. "Accordingly, the DOJ now has until February 27, 2022 to initiate litigation to block the consummation of the merger."

In January 2021, UnitedHealth subsidiary Optum announced its intent to purchase data analytics firm Change Healthcare. The deal has faced several hurdles, including opposition from the American Hospital Association and a Justice Department investigation.

On Feb. 15, reports surfaced that the Justice Department is considering a lawsuit to block the deal. Change had reportedly been working with advisers to discuss a possible sale of assets to help close the deal and avert an antitrust challenge. According to Bloomberg Law, which cited Dealreporter, the Justice Department hasn't found any divestitures that would be acceptable to alleviate antitrust concern.

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